Strange Greece and Italy would absorb a religion created in Judea, but the fertile crescent is where most of the action was taking place at the birth of civilization, and where written language first appeared 3,000 years before Christianity.
First, however, some visitors from the North arrived calling themselves Sakas and traveling in hemp-covered wagons pulled by oxen. They were ardent explorers and traders, and fierce warriors, and pioneered the silk trail, and made extensive forays into Persia, although King Darius went to war against them because they were the only people other than the Greeks he’d failed to subjugate. Even more amazing, the Sakas rode the first horses, wore gold armor, and covered their bodies with psychedelic tattoos of fantastical griffons and dragons. The first sighting of a Saka caravan must have been an awesome sight for anyone who’d never seen a horse before and the horse soon assumed epic statute in every culture, a symbol of great power and virility. Only the rich owned horses.
But the Sakas also brought cannabis flowers, which they threw onto hot coals in tipis, while gathering inside to inhale the smoke before dancing and singing with great enthusiasm. This ritual was described by Herodotus, who witnessed it first-hand. Unfortunately, the Sakas never established a written language, and this is why so little is known about them. Cultures can collide or harmonize, and it seems collisions are more frequent, and most our our history is the story of wars and battles. But after the smoke clears, there’s always an opportunity for harmonization.
The arrival of the written word could be compared with the invention of the Internet. Suddenly, ideas could be transmitted to all corners of the world simultaneously. The Phoenicians brought written language to the Greeks after it had already been established in the fertile crescent, and some say Homer was a Phoenician.
Despite being over 10,000 lines of poetry, the Iliad was an oral tradition for centuries, recited at festivals and games. Any child with a prodigious memory would have likely been recruited by the nearest temple. Even in the fertile crescent, the altar boys were the ones who recited the sacred words with accuracy. The Iliad is the bible of Greece, and established a pantheon of gods and goddesses who ruled the universe from a nearby mountain top. The Greeks triumphed over Persia largely because of their democracy. Free men were more committed than slaves when it came to combat, especially as they had families to protect and were defending their homeland.
Several hundred years later, Rome built its culture on top of Greek tradition, and Virgil wrote the Aeneid establishing Rome’s divine right to rule. Epic poems were designed to enchant and entertain with allegory and parable, but also to keep the population in place by anointing the oligarchy with divine connections. I’m sure there were many aspiring poets in all cultures who never made it into the history books, while others who pleased the rulers got recited at games and festivals.
In ancient times, slavery was a fact of life, and cultures with the most slaves built the biggest temples. It was not unknown for poor people to sell their children into slavery, and apparently that’s what may have happened to Jesus, since according to stories circulating in Alexandria at the time, his mother was impregnated by a Roman soldier, and since she was unmarried and a poor laundry woman, she sold Jesus into indentured servitude for 30 years. Some Egyptians believed Jesus performed his miracles through their magic.
But just about everything in the Jesus myth has origins in some other culture and the list of self-birthers includes Marduk (Sumeria), Horos (Egypt), Buddha and Krishna (India), and Perseus (Greece). Placing the birth date on the winter solstice is an obvious attempt to tie Jesus to the ancient Sun God myth so he could ride those impressive coattails. Even monotheists employed the sun to represent the eye of the One.
I don’t believe Jesus claimed divinity, though the mantle of divinity was placed on him after death. Why was Jesus so elevated while his half-brother James cast aside? It was James who created the real Christian ministry, and became such an inspirational leader that his death in the year 60 provoked some of the worst riots in Jerusalem history, resulting in the destruction of the temple and banishment of all Jews from Judea. Also, the word “Christ” originally meant “anointed” and was a reference to anyone treated with the sacred temple oil of the Old Testament. But hundreds of years after the fact, the words Jesus and Christ were fused together.
But even after James’ congregation scattered to the winds, they left behind many secret documents, most of which were destroyed during the first few centuries of Christianity, but starting around WWII, a few of these started to turn up in caves near the Dead Sea and in the fields around Alexandria. And they tell a much different story from the one in the New Testament.